Behind Edwin Jackson’s strong start, some late offense, and another excellent performance by the bullpen, the A’s won their sixth consecutive game, beating the Cleveland Indians 7-2.
Cleveland strikes first
It took a few innings for either team to get going offensively. Cleveland got on the board first, with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez taking two hittable but also not terrible pitches out to right and right-center field respectively in the fourth inning. It was a blip in an otherwise strong start by Edwin Jackson, the only two runs he’d allow.
One of the many great parts of winning is it allows you to gush about competitors rather than hate them. Lindor and Ramirez are two fun and fantastic players, and the home runs aren’t a surprise. Good on Jackson from keeping other Indians’ hitters off the basepaths prior to those blasts.
Anecdotally, the A’s starters have been a weirdly awesome blend of hit or miss this season. When they’re on, they’re on, shutting down a fantastic offense like the Indians and giving the A’s a legit shot at winning. When they’re off, they’re off, giving up runs in bunches.
Jackson was just studly today, and while he’s not going to be this good going forward, he may well be serviceable. His fastball was dynamic, hitting all parts of the zone with all sorts of velocities including a 97 MPH heater near the end of his outing. In his long career, Jackson has never lacked stuff, and that’s still true in his age 34 season. If he can find consistency, he can be a good player at a position of need.
Random starters over achieving has long been a hallmark of good A’s teams. Guillermo Moscoso, Travis Blackley, hell even Bartolo Colon fit that mold. These surprise guys are always easy to root for. How cool would it be for Edwin Jackson to play a huge role in the A’s snagging a surprise Wild Card berth?
Jackson would end his day pitching 6 and 2⁄3 innings giving up just the two runs on just those two hits while striking out six. He didn’t walk a single batter, a refreshing change of pace in an extremely strong start.
The A’s early (lack of) offense
Okay, I’m certain this is a good hitting team. The recent road trip drove that point home and even with the meager competition the A’s faced, it was an impressive offensive performance.
Then again, this team at home. Good lord this team at home. There are times when it feels like they just can’t score in the Coliseum, and it felt that way early on today. For the first four frames, the A’s didn’t put a single runner on base, nor did they put up a single strong at bat. They’d get their first base runner in the fifth, a scorched double that wound up just short of a dinger off the bat of Khris Davis. He’d be stranded with ease because of course that would happen at home.
Credit to Adam Plutko who could end up a solid pitcher when it’s all said and done. His stuff was decent and his command was pinpoint, taking advantage of a wide zone by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. Still, the A’s gotta do more.
The A’s do more
The bats woke up in the sixth. Franklin Barreto led off the inning with a double to left. A more deft left fielder would have caught the ball and a less windy day would have yielded a dinger, so call it a push. Josh Phegley followed up with a dinger to left, tying the game at 2-2.
Dustin Fowler followed that with a single to right, and scored on a Mark Canha double to off the left field fence, just a touch short of a dinger. Canha would be thrown out trying to take third on the play, but we’ll forgive that TOOTLBAN and thank the baseball gods for the 3-2 lead after six.
Insurance runs in the eigth
In the eighth, Dustin Fowler absolutely blasted a ball to the moon to give the A’s an insurance run, making the score 4-2. We often think of Fowler as having a fairly low ceiling with a high probability of being a solid regular. Dare to dream for a moment when you see this power.
Fowler provides some insurance pic.twitter.com/OnxJACzDdc— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) June 30, 2018
Mark Canha would follow would a walk. Jed Lowrie would follow that walk with a walk on a 3-2 count, and on that walk, Mark Canha went to steal second base. In spite of a rather obvious ball four call, Indian’s catcher Yan Gomes threw down wildly to second, bouncing off the glove of shortstop Francisco Lindor allowing Canha to go to third. He would score on a sac fly by Khris Davis, making the score 5-2.
Matt Olson would follow that with a blast of his own, making the score 7-2 and capping off a strong finish for the A’s offense.
After Edwin Jackson’s day was done, the A’s bullpen did their thing and held the slim lead with ease. Ryan Buchter got a big strikeout against former Athletic Yonder Alonso to end the seventh. Emilio Pagan had some control issues in the eighth but still shut the Indians lineup down.
It looked like Lou Trivino would take the ninth for the A’s, but Matt Olson’s bomb allowed those duties to shift to a not overworked pitcher, Santiago Casilla. Casilla did not do his part, allowing three baserunners while getting a single out, requiring Trivino to come into the game to clean up the mess. He did that in the form of inducing a quick double play, ending the game in favor of the A’s.
The A’s are rolling.